Like last year the keyword for smartphones was AI (Artificial Intelligence), this year the keyword might be 5G “the next big thing”, so you’ll probably see a lot of advertisements about 5G enabled smartphones. Reality is that a properly rolled out 5G network is probably great as you get great internet speeds, lower latency, the ability to connect a lot more devices to the same network.
But there is a huge problem that the smartphone manufacturers probably wouldn’t want you to know, and it is that to get to that stage where 5G becomes a standard we need to overcome a very large obstacle, and that obstacle casts a shade over this whole 5G hype.
It’s the difference in 5G & 4G Wavelength, the 5G wavelength acts very differently compared to the 4G wavelength, that means that 5G signals have significantly shorter range and weaker penetration than 4G signal so things like a wall, tree, human being can affect the overall signal strength, even your palms could do so if they are covering the antenna bands.
The solution to this is kind of primitive, it is basically to flood the cities with a ton of cell towers. So there has to be a cell tower instead of every street light because in order to take the full advantage of the 5G network you’ll need to have a clear line of sight between you and the cell tower.
The main issue is that it’s going to take an enormous amount of time to build such an infrastructure, even during this process, there is going to be pushback from communities and this will even impose some health-risks due to the increased EMF radiations from these towers. So for the people who actually buy 5G enabled smartphones in 2019, it’s going to be a long time before they can actually take advantage of that 5G connectivity, and that is just the network side of things. When it comes to smartphone hardware, things get a lot more complicated.
Firstly, 5G Enabled phones are going to be crazy expensive at launch. So, Pete Lau OnePlus’s CEO said that there 5G Enabled smartphones are going to be $200-$300 more expensive then there standard flagship of 2019, It is a well-known fact that OnePlus launches pretty fairly priced phones so if their 5G smartphones are going to be priced so expensively then what should we expect from premium manufacturers like Samsung & Apple.
Secondly, the new Snapdragon 855, needs a separate X50 5G modem, and multiple antenna bands In order to run 5G, this is very expensive for companies to achieve and is going to cost consumers a lot.
In theory, the 5G is supposed to be 20 times faster than the 4G network but the X50 5G modem that comes with Snapdragon 855 is only 2 times faster. So, Yes, it’s faster but not something groundbreaking that is worth paying $200-$300 more.
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The 5G network is something that we are inevitably going to achieve, but I believe that it might take at least 3-4 years before it becomes the standard and the rollout gets completed. Therefore, it makes no sense to invest in a 5G phone right now as even the Snapdragon 855 chipset isn’t capable of utilizing 5G’s full potential.